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Lansdowne, Lord

Lansdowne, Lord (1888-1894) Governor-General and Viceroy of India. Born on 14 January 1845, he had already served as the Governor General of Canada and Foreign Secretary of Great Britain and deputy leader of the Conservative Party before assuming the office of Governor-General in India.

Lord Lansdowne

Peace, progress and some development works marked Lansdowne's administration in India. He had to take military action in the state of Manipur in Assam. The commander-in-chief of the state had killed some Englishmen including the Chief Commissioner of Assam who was on a visit to the state. The rising was suppressed and the commander-in-chief was captured and hanged.

During the time of Lansdowne railway and irrigation works were extended. A notable event in his time was the passing of India Act of 1892 by which the legislative councils were reconstituted by increasing the number of members who were given the rights to discuss financial matters and to interpret them. Formerly the government nominated the members but now they were to be elected by the Municipal Committees, District Boards, Universities and other public bodies to make the council more representative in character. During his period the value of silver declined in relation to gold and this hit India adversely as she was indebted to a gold standard country. To meet the challenge he increased the income tax and enhanced the salt tax. Exchange rate was fixed at Is 4d per rupee, to the considerable loss of India.

Lansdowne applied the forward policy in the northeast and northwest frontiers of India. China recognised the British conquest of Burma. The kingdom of Sikim was brought under British protection in 1888 and its boundary with Tibet was demarcated. A mission to Kabul made arrangements for the demarcation of India-Afghan border. Mortimer Durand went to Afghanistan as the British envoy and established cordial relations with the Amir who was finally persuaded to accept the famous Durand Line marking the boundary between Afghanistan and India.

On retirement from India in 1894 Lansdowne was appointed secretary for war and served in this capacity from 1895 to 1900. [KM Mohsin]